SEO is something that we have to constantly be up to date on the best practices and learn every day. When you think you are up to date, Google changes something and you will need to make some changes. If you are into SEO, come with me to see what techniques I would apply in a fictional case. Let’s learn about the digital marketing blog case.

The Digital Marketing Blog Case

In this case, we have a specific situation where a digital marketing blog was increasing 40% a year of organic traffic and now, in 2022, has dropped from 3 million sessions per month to 2 million sessions. This is something that could happen to any website. I remember on quote from Neil Patel about being on #1 position on Google. The question is not if your rankings are going down, the question is when your rankings are going down.

In other words, if you don’t move, if you don’t follow the best practices, if you don’t have good content. You are going down. But you’re also going down if you follow the best practices and if you write good content. But once you realize you are going down, what can you do to come back to the road of growth? That’s what I’m going to try to answer in this case.

Just to be clear, there’s no right or wrong. There are tests and there are things that will work for a specific niche and will not work on others. So, don’t take this as something that you must do. But it is certainly something you can try to do.

Tools that I used in this case

  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics
  • SemRush
  • Google PageSpeed Insights
  • AnswerThePublic

Other relevant information about the case

This is a fictional case. I didn’t have a blog that was losing traffic to test what I say on the case. Besides that, these are the strategies that I would do. If you would do something different, comment on the case. It will add lots of value to people who are searching possibilities.

That’s all!! Let’s go to the case it self.

The Case

The Digital Marketing Blog has been growing its organic traffic by 40% every year, reaching over 3 million sessions per month. This metric is our only KPI for determining blog success.

However, since January 2021, the blog started experiencing a drop month by month in its traffic and today, one year later, it fell below 2 million sessions per month. 🙁

Relevant info

  • We are still in first position for the 10 most strategic keywords related to digital marketing, and that bring the most customers;
  • We are publishing 70 posts per month, and have the capacity to publish even more if necessary, through our talent network;
  • The blog counts with 75 points of Moz Domain Authority;
  • This is a fictional case 🙂

What would I do to get more traffic in this specific case?

First of all, we need to identify what’s causing this traffic drop (The Investigation). After that, we can propose some tactics to recover and boost organic traffic (The Plan). Finally we can come up with a plan of action for the whole strategy (The Strategy).

When I read the case, the first thing that came to my mind was that, in 2020, Google has launched three metrics to measure the user’s experience on web sites called Core Web Vitals. So, the Core Web Vitals metrics would be my first step of the investigation.

On the other hand, the case says the “ONLY KPI” for determining the blog success is “Sessions per month”. In this case, I would also need to evaluate the historic sessions per month metric. It’s totally possible that something could be limiting users to navigate to other pages on the blog.

With these two things in mind, I’ll use some tools to better understand the situation and propose ideas to get better results. Hey, ho! Let’s grow! 🚀

Table of Contents

    The Investigation

    As I said before, my first step of the investigation would be focused on the Core Web Vitals.

    Step 1 – Google Search Console

    First, I would go to Google Search Console and would check the Page Experience, Core Web Vitals and Mobile Usability.

    If any of them had any issues that we could solve, I would prioritize with the Tech Team (if necessary). In some cases, I could even recommend changing the web hosting for improving the site speed.

    1. Page Experience / Core Web Vitals
    An example of the Page Experience overview (this picture is not from the case, as said before, it’s a fictional case, but it is a real screen shot from a real website.)

    In this example of the picture, you can see that this specific website had problems with the Core Web Vitals. Nowadays, it has only 5 urls which are failing on the tests. If I click to see the details, I would get something like this:

    In this specific case, we would have to think about improving the LCP (largest content paint) to less than 2.5s on mobile. It could be done a cache control, for example. I’ll talk about it later on this post.

    Besides that, here are other steps that I would do in order to identify the cause and propose solutions.

    Step 2 – Google Analytics

    Here it is important to set a range of time that makes sense to the analysis. As the drop has started in 2021, I would analyze the range starting in January 2020 to December 2021.

    I would check 4 things here to start:

    1. URLs: I would analyze which posts ranked well before and now are getting less traffic. I would generate a list of these urls to check them in a future step.
    2. Site Speed: I would also check the site speed to check if throughout the period the average speed got higher. Nobody likes a slow website 🙂
    3. Number of Sessions Per use: As the KPI is based on Sessions per month, I would also check the Exit rate and the Number of Sessions Per Use in different períods. For example, if in 2020 the number of sessions were higher, it’s possible the users aren’t navigating to a second page nowadays. This could be happening due to a popup, a push onsite or the lack of internal links on the recent posts which could be making navigation difficult.
    4. How is the blog accessed? Mobile? Desktop? I guess it’s more mobile. But I need to be sure, because all the analysis I should think mobile or desktop first?

    Step 3 – Google Search Console (again!)

    For me, Google Search Console is one of the best tools to get ideas to improve organic traffic. Let’s see how I would use it:

    1. Search Results

    I would go on the Search Results page, and filter for pages which had ranked in the last 28 days and compare them to 28 days before year over year.

    This would indicate pages that lost traffic compared to the previous year.

    Basically, the posts where the year before got more traffic than the last 28 days, with a similar number of impressions are the posts that I would suggest to update the content to be more relevant again.

    These posts were relevant in the past, but somehow they lost traffic. So it’s time to update them.

    Just an example of 28 days chart compared to the previous year

    When I get this information, I would order the Pages by “clicks previous 28 days (2021)”. If the “click difference” has some negative values, these are the posts that we have the opportunity to get more traffic again. Updating them and making them relevant again. Probably, this list would be similar to the one I generated on step 2.1. But with both lists on my hand, I’ll have the whole scenarium.

    I would also check url by url and would take a look at the queries that lost traffic. In deed, IO would search on Google some of these queries and visit the first positions to get an idea of what they have done and what we could do to update our articles and, consequently, improve our rankings.

    2. 5th to 8th Positions

    I also would check for queries that are ranked between 5th to 8th position with a good amount of impressions and with low CTRs. These pages are the ones we could improve the title and the meta description to move up on the results. We could try to use different titles to invite the person to click and different CTAs on the meta description.

    3. Queries

    Another thing that I think is worth checking are the queries that are ranking but are not getting any organic traffic. These queries would generate a list of possible long tail keywords that we could create more content about. 

    4. AMP

    Google no longer uses AMP as a ranking factor, but some sites and blogs still use it. As AMP pages are faster, they get better results in the Core Web Vitals metrics. If the blog has AMP pages, I would check on Search Console if it is pointing errors or valid amp pages with warnings.

    5. Coverage

    I would check the Coverage if there are pages with errors, or valid with warning. On the Excluded pages tab, I would check pages which were crawled but are not indexed. There, I would generate a list of them to check in another step if we could do something to improve these pages so they could rank.

    6. Google Discover

    For me, Google Discover has a great potential to boost the traffic of a website. Of course, it depends on the strategy itself. But, in this fictional case, as the only KPI is sessions per month, I think it would be interesting to investigate a little about the Discover performance of the blog.

    I would check the Discover performance, to understand what type of contents performed better on Google Discover. With this, I would generate a list of ideas of content that could perform well on Discover to produce content in the future.

    I would also check the website code to see if it’s optimized to the “following resource of feeds (rss)” of Google Discover.

    Step 4 – Google PageSpeed Insights

    An example of Google Speed Test Insights Results

    Google Search Console already gave us an overview of the blog speed base on the Core Web Vitals. But I would also run some tests on Google PageSpeed Insights.

    I would run a couple of tests with different urls to check the speed and the possibilities of improvement.

    Besides that, I would check if the blog has any type of cache control. If that’s the case, I would suggest a plugin to control cache if it’s a wordpress blog. If it’s not wordpress, I would discuss with the tech team what would be the possibilities to implement cache control.

    I would also check the size of the images to see if they are too large or if they are already in the webp format.

    Step 5 – Semrush

    I would run an analysis at Semrush of the whole website to look for opportunities to improve. If I couldn’t afford a Semrush Premium plan, I would create an email and run this test on the 7 days free trial that they have. (sorry semrush, but it is what it is 😬 )

    I would download all the reports Semrush would generate and analyze what opportunities of improvements we would have.

    Step 6 – Long Tail Keywords

    I would use the AnswerThePublic tool to look for long tail keywords related to Digital Marketing and specific topics. With this list I would see what we have already produced about these long tail keywords and would generate a list of what we could write about it (new posts or update old ones).

    For me, success will come with specific keywords and long tail keywords. When you put all their results together, you see the power of long tail keywords.

    Besides digital marketing, web3.0 (NFTs, Metaverse and all the topics related) will be, in my opinion, a great possibility for marketers all over the world to produce different things and content. As this topic is trending everywhere, I would definitely suggest writing some content about it with a marketing point of view.

    The Plan

    After all this investigation, we would have lots of data and ideas to work with. To make it easier, let’s put them in to an action plan:

    1. Analyze and correct Core Web Vitals problems.
    2. Improve the User’s Experience: if that’s the case, we should reduce popups, banners, pushes and increase the number of internal links inside the posts to motivate the user to go to another article. Remember, what matters here is the number of sessions per use.
    3. Update old posts that were relevant in the past and lost traffic throughout the time. We should use the ideas we collected on step 3.1.
    4. Test different Titles and Meta Descriptions on the articles we selected on step 3.2.
    5. Correct AMP errors, if they exist.
    6. Updated crawled pages that are not indexed, if they have good content
    7. Optimize the blog for Google Discover.
    8. Write some new content based on the ideas we got on step 3.6
    9. Implement Cache Control, if it doesn’t exist.
    10. Convert images to webp format, if they aren’t yet webp.
    11. Correct as many errors as we could that were pointed by Semrush.
    12. Write some new content with the long tail keywords we have selected on step 6.
    13. Write some content about Web3.0 x Marketing
    14. See what happens 😎, and monitor the metrics.

    The Strategy

    At the beginning, I wouldn’t change the overall strategy, nor the quantity of content being published monthly. I would try to put the articles that are needed to be updated on the current flow of production.

    The focus would be in ranking for long tail keywords, improving the blog performance, updating old content and writing trending topics related to digital marketing.

    After a few months, I would consider writing more content per month to get more traffic from Google Discover as well.

    At the end of the day, to get high rankings are related to creating and publishing remarkable content that your audience truly wants, not by trying to game the system, but it’s also important to understand the whole user’s experience itself.

    That was The Digital Marketing Blog Case, I hope you have enjoyed it!